A beak is one of the most important body parts on any bird. It’s instrumental in excavating nests, hunting and feeding young ones. However, recently, a disproportionately high number of birds in Alaska have developed deformed beaks.
An article from Wired.com states that “1 in 16 Alaskan crows and black-capped chickadees now suffer from avian keratin disorder, causing their beaks to become morbidly elongated and crossed.” This is ten times the normal rate of disfigurement.
Such a high rate of sudden disfigurement usually signals a disturbance in the ecosystem and scientists speculate that environmental factors, such as toxins and heavy metals could be responsible. Other possible causes are bacteria, viruses, fungi or nutritional deficiencies.
Scientists are currently running a battery of tests to try to figure out the cause for the disfigurement.